Throughout my ministry, I have become increasingly aware – and hopefully sensitive –- to the painful reality of brokenness in so many people’s lives. People are broken. Marriages are broken. Friendships are broken. Families are broken. Churches are broken. Hearts are broken. The causes of brokenness are many, corresponding to just as many kinds of brokenness. The results are hurting people living diminished lives, sometimes passing their pain and hurt on to others – after all, hurting people hurt people.
Churches do a lot of good things – religious programing, service to the community, etc. But, what if one of the primary functions of the church was healing and transforming lives? What if churches weren’t afraid to talk about brokenness, and to provide resource where actual life transformation occurs?
I’m thinking of churches that offer various kinds of 12-step programs for all kinds of addictive and codependent behaviors.
I’m thinking of churches that have an active healing ministry – including healing services, and individuals trained in the art of healing prayer.
I’m thinking of churches that staff professional counselors to help individuals, couples and families.
I’m thinking of support groups for all kinds of issues – grief, divorce, depression, eating disorders, cutting, etc. – but with a specific focus on Jesus as the comforter and healer.
I’m thinking of worship services that speak to people’s deepest pains - that provide space for healing prayer and lamentation.
I’m thinking of churches that employ social workers and parish nurses to provide substantive case-management as individuals are working through difficult issues.
I’m thinking of pre-marital counseling, marriage enrichment classes, parenting classes, and workshops on self worth and identity in Christ.
I’m thinking of prayer ministries that actively pray for the health (mental, physical, emotional, spiritual) and wellbeing of the churches members.
I’m thinking of reconciliation ministries to assist in the process of rebuilding relationships that need forgiveness and restoration.
I’m thinking of thematic retreats on healing and growth in Christ.
I’m thinking of church-based half-way houses for individuals transitioning back into everyday life from any number of issues – rehab, abuse, etc.
I’m imaging a place where it is ok to admit that you aren’t perfect, that you are in pain, that you have messed up, that your family is struggling, that you need help, and a church that has the compassion and the resources to help in the healing process.
I’m imaging a church that believes in a God that loves enough to care, is good enough to act, and is big enough to actually heal the hurting, bind-up the broken hearted, and to fix anything that is broken.
Some may say, “The Church is about saving souls – not about offering about of social services.” But, I would argue, salvation is for the WHOLE person – soul, mind, heart, and body. In fact, at the root of the word “salvation” is the word, “salve.” A salve is like an ointment that would be used on a wound. That’s what salvation is – the anointing of the Holy Spirit on the brokenness of our lives, in order to restore and redeem us for this life and the next.
Such a vision of the Church as a place of healing must be grounded in a God who cares, who is compassionate, and actively works in peoples hearts and lives – the same God who calls his people to love, to comfort, to encourage, and to assist.
Our God is in the healing business – the Church should be as well!